It’s finally here.
After eight long months, Bengals football is back and seemingly revived following an offseason of turnover and rebirth across the roster. Now it’s time to see the results on the field and find out what this team is capable of. Here are 16 meaningful numbers for every Bengals game this season.
WEEK 1: @ Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck is making his first start for the Colts in 20 months. That’s something this Bengals team, especially the front seven, should be able to take advantage of. Cincinnati fields one of the deepest defensive line groups in the NFL. Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo could be out, which would make things even worse for Luck.
WEEK 2: Baltimore Ravens
When the Bengals made their final cuts, the average age of the roster was 25.2 years old. That made them one of the three youngest teams in the league. There isn’t a lot of experience on either side of the ball going into a home opener against a division rival. A lot of new faces have to step up for the Bengals to succeed this season and it starts by outplaying Baltimore in front of the home crowd.
WEEK 3: @ Carolina Panthers
It was a wild affair four years ago in Charlotte, Cam Newton led the Panthers offense to 37-37 tie with 391 total yards including 107 on the ground. If that happens again don’t expect the Bengals to bring home a victory in the Battle of Queen Cities. Cincinnati gave up 109 yards across four running quarterback matchups last season.
WEEK 4: @ Atlanta Falcons
Number 46.4 percent
The Bengals offense dominated headlines in a bad way this offseason but the defense was quietly solid last season especially in the red zone where they ranked 4th in touchdown scoring percentage. The Falcons offense finished 23rd on the flip side of that stat and were 1-5 on red zone tries in their opener against Philadelphia.
WEEK 5: Miami Dolphins
While Marvin Lewis is 3-3 all-time against the Miami Dolphins, he has matched up against the same head coach just once. Consistency in Miami has been tough to find over the past 15 years, Joe Philbin was the only coach to face Lewis twice. Ironically, they were two close victories for the Dolphins, barring a disastrous first month for Miami, Adam Gase will get his second crack at Lewis in week five.
WEEK 6: Pittsburgh Steelers
15 years in and Marvin Lewis has accrued 8 victories against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 32 games.
The Bengals haven’t knocked off the black and yellow in Paul Brown Stadium since September 2013 and this could be their best chance yet if Le’veon Bell is serious about his early season holdout.
WEEK 7: @ Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid always has his teams ready play, but when the Kansas City Chiefs perform at Arrowhead Stadium they are a different animal. Arrowhead and the Chiefs hold the record for loudest stadium crowd roar at 142.2 decibels. The Bengals dominated 28-6 in Kansas City six years ago and are looking to push the series winning streak to five games.
WEEK 8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Amidst the James Winston controversy, there is a strong chance Ryan Fitzpatrick will be barking out calls at the line of scrimmage for Tampa Bay. William Jackson III and the Bengals secondary will be ready for Fitsy and his 136 career interceptions which ranks 73rd all time. He could realistically crack the top 60 of that group this season and Bengals will gladly help him get there.
WEEK 10: New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees has cemented his status as one of the all-time greats and he’s played like it against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brees has thrown for 1,078 yards in three games against Cincinnati in a Saints uniform. New Orleans is absolutely loaded with offensive weapons this season, a repeat of the 522-yard performance from 2006 is possible.
WEEK 11: @ Baltimore
It was a nightmare start to the year in 2017 and it all came to a head during the week one shutout in Baltimore. That should be burned deep into the minds of every returning player and give them an extra edge against a Baltimore team that could be led by Lamar Jackson at this point in the season.
WEEK 12: Cleveland Browns
The Browns are getting plenty of hype this season and some of it is warranted when you look at their revival at quarterback. 2017 starter Deshone Kizer led the league with 22 interceptions, while his replacement for this season, Tyrod Taylor, threw four. That 18 turnover gap should give the Browns a lot more chances to win this season and they won’t make it easy for a Bengals defense that finished 31st in takeaways last season.
WEEK 13: Denver Broncos
Von Miller is an All-Pro and one of the premier players at his position, he’s played like it against the Bengals. In six matchups he has five sacks and the offseason pairing of him and Bradley Chubb should strike fear into any opposing offensive line. Bobby Hart is a first-year starter for the Bengals at right tackle and if he still has that job in week 13 he will have his hands full.
WEEK 14: @ Los Angeles Chargers
Philip Rivers and the Chargers led the NFL with 4,431 passing yards last year using a dynamic attack featuring every skill position in the offense. Meanwhile, the Bengals finished 8th in passing yards allowed, the matchups between LA skill players and the Bengals secondary will be key all afternoon.
WEEK 15: Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden hasn’t coached against Marvin Lewis and the Bengals since October 15, 2006, or roughly 4,346 days. Oakland just traded away their best player, Khalil Mack, from a defense that ranked 29th in the league last year with him on the field. It could be a long season in Oakland and they start winding it down with a trip to Cincinnati.
WEEK 16: @ Cleveland
The Browns have been a laughing stock for the majority of their time as a franchise and their matchups with the Bengals are no different. Cleveland is 4-12 against Cincinnati this decade and hasn’t taken out Andy Dalton and Co. in Cleveland since September 29, 2013. The odds keep stacking against the Hardland of America.
WEEK 17: @ Pittsburgh
Le’veon Bell is the lifeblood of the Steelers offense, accounting for 85 percent of the teams rushing yards and 13 percent of the teams receiving yards last season. He is holding out to start the season because the man wants to get paid, but he will be playing in this game barring injury. The week 17 matchup has playoff implications written all over it and I highly doubt he misses it, I know I won’t.
An Open Letter to Marvin Lewis
Dear Mr. Lewis,
I have been contemplating sending you this letter for quite some time, and I hope it finds you well. You don’t know me, but I am a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Bengals. The second Super Bowl loss to the San Francisco 49ers remains as the first time I can remember experiencing heartbreak. I have, quite literally, hated Joe Montana for what he did to my then 12 year old self, for 30 years now. That said, my fandom has endured. Admittedly, as I was in college in the late 90’s, I was not as honed in on every move my Bengals made. So many losses, so little time. Sure, I loved Jeff Blake, Corey Dillon, and Takeo Spikes, but I had finals to take and parties from which to recover. But then something happened. Something unexpected. Mike Brown hired you as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003. Marvin Lewis – the legendary architect of one of the greatest defenses in the history of the league – was coming to be our coach! The excitement was palpable, and you were brimming with confidence. It was a swagger not seen around here since the days of Sam Wyche.
As the years passed, you began to place your stamp on the team and the city. The Marvin Lewis community fund is an outstanding work of art, and a tribute to your dedication to the people of Cincinnati. Kudos. On the field, the likes of Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, Rudi Johnson, Willie Anderson, and TJ Houshmandzadeh, made being a Bengals’ fan fun again. They became must see TV, if not in person appointment viewing. Cleveland was a guaranteed two wins. Baltimore was almost two. Pittsburgh was likely a couple of losses, but the wins were sweet, and the losses were respectable. I’d look forward to your post-game interviews, and your Monday press conferences. There was useful information to be gleaned from them. Things that the average fan would miss as they had long turned off the broadcast and moved on with their lives. Not me. I am a loyal fan, remember? I don’t break down tape or have some hot draft take, but I love my Bengals, and I follow them closely – you included.
I need to take a moment to give you some props on the transition from the Palmer-era to the Dalton-era. That entire thing was a mess, what with Carson forcing his way out, you hiring an unproven offensive coordinator in Jay Gruden, and then drafting/starting a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton. And all during an NFL lockout. I still remember predictions of the team going 0-16 that year. Somehow, some way, you guided this team, not only to a winning record, but to the playoffs. I am not sure if I have ever been more impressed by an NFL coach. You completely rebooted the franchise, and had a whole new cast of characters for us to get to know. Dalton, AJ Green, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Clint Boling, and Andrew Whitworth. Young talent, ready to take on the AFC North. Two wins versus Cleveland – check. Almost two wins versus Baltimore – check. Still two losses to Pittsburgh – yeah, most of the time, but division titles weren’t out of reach. The playoffs became an annual event. This is where I need to touch on the obvious…
I do not understand your philosophy when it comes to playoff games, and for that matter, night games, games against Pittsburgh, Monday Night Football games, and any other game not at 1 pm eastern. You seem to have think and preach that these games are just the same as any other. No need for extra emphasis. No need for extra hype. No need to bring an extra chin strap because it’s just another game. After watching 16 years of this approach from you, I humbly disagree. Your teams are consistently outplayed, out-coached, and seemingly unprepared for the spotlight of these match-ups. At some point, would it not make sense to try a different approach? Maybe call it Pittsburgh week? Maybe say this Sunday night game is going to be huge for us? Maybe say that your team is chomping at the bit to play on Monday Night Football? It’s got to be better than just another game – just another loss.
I know you love this city and this franchise. I genuinely believe you want to win – for Mike Brown, and for the fans. That said, I think that it is time to move on with your life’s work. You gave it your all. You got more out of Mr. Brown than anyone ever thought possible. You raised this franchise to a level of respectability that no one could have predicted. You have done good work. It’s just not enough. There is no shame in that. And if I am being honest, you just do not seem to enjoy this anymore. Your press conferences, that I used to look forward to hearing, are all the same. Short, full of disdain for the people asking questions, and random giggles that make no sense. The fire and energy after 16 years of being an NFL head coach have faded. Why not let someone else give it a shot? We both know Mike Brown isn’t going to fire you, so why not walk away? Do what’s best for the franchise, and make them look for a coach. Last time, it brought us you!
Thank you for reading, and I wish you all the best in your next adventure.
P. S. Please take Hue Jackson with you. Thanks
Blog of Football Sorrows: Week 13
Today I officially changed the name of this game recap blog. It just fits. To be positive about this iteration of the Bengals is to be a master of the mind that I cannot comprehend (aka delusional).
They’re done. I didn’t think they had much hope for the playoffs before the game, and they certainly don’t now. The injuries are a problem, but they aren’t the problem. The offense has been stale for weeks thriving on an identity-less scheme filled with dink and dunk passes and zero creativity. They now have four games left. The Raiders seem winnable, but with the hope of starting over, do we fans want that? Do we want there to be a glimmer of hope in management’s eyes? I don’t. I want change, and that doesn’t happen by winning any remaining games, this year. Lose em all, blow it up, let’s start fixing the problems that have been ignored for too long.
Jeff Driskel, to no fault of his own, was meh. Which is much the story of 2018. The game plan, in the beginning, seemed to be for him to get momentum built through screens and flat routes…but then they kept the training wheels on. Second quarter, third quarter…it kept going. The Bengals fell behind on the scoreboard and their answer was to run more crossing routes and short outs? Cincinnati ran RPO plays…and only passed. They asked an athletic quarterback who can move to stand tall in the pocket and fend off pressure from a defense with its ears pinned back matching up with a bad and battered offensive line. Kind of like James mentioned on the post-game pod, how bad is Cedric Ogbuehi that the answer to filling in for Cordy Glenn is the starting left guard and not your former first round pick, who is actually supposed to be a left tackle? So the coaching game plan was to tell Driskel to grin and bear it behind an uninspired line with uninspired play calling? But, you know, Marvin Lewis says “We’ve got to do our jobs better. The players have to execute the game plan the way it is coached.” What? The game plan hasn’t changed in 10 years! Different personnel, different opponents, different circumstances, same stale, boring, dull, lifeless, clueless plan. I get sick to my stomach when I listen to Marvin do a press conference.
The only thing left is the future, whatever may come. I know that is bleak. Not one of you reading these words can say, with a straight face, that you can see a different coach roaming the sidelines in 2019 who isn’t Marvin or Hue Jackson. We know. We know there isn’t going to be any change, and that’s why the stadium is empty. That’s why the orange in the stands at Paul Brown Stadium was Bronco orange and not Bengal orange. The sound at the end of the game? Cheers and applause, because anyone still there was a fan of the visiting victors. There’s no one left to boo because they’ve been booing for so long they’ve lost interest. It is understood that the most likely outcome this season, if change comes at all, is that Hue takes the reigns. We’ll go from a boring, uninspired, regularly out-maneuvered coach to a joke of a coach. So how can anyone care? I looked at tickets before the game. You could have sit 12 rows back in the endzone for $35…and I said no. Why? Because the joke that is the visual of the stands at PBS is the last thing we fans have left to tell ownership to get their rear in gear and fix this. Will they? You tell me…
Follow @jefffcarr and @lockedonBengals on Twitter for more angst Bengals content.
A lot of Bengals fans (myself included) wondered before the year why a young team with so much talent was pegged with worse Super Bowl odds than our in-state neighbors.
In the eyes of Las Vegas, it didn’t matter that the Bengals rallied to end last season at 7-9 with a signature victory over the Baltimore Ravens. It didn’t matter that the Bengals made legitimate offseason moves to sure up the offensive line. It didn’t matter that Bill Lazor was given a whole offseason to install his system or that Teryl Austin was bringing a turnovers-or-bust mentality with him from Detroit.
It. Didn’t. Matter.
The only thing that mattered was the face of the franchise returning for his 16th year. Marvin Lewis is and always will be the reason people around the NFL don’t take the Bengals seriously and it’s become both a blessing and a curse.
When Lewis arrived in 2003, he inherited what many considered to be one of the worst franchises in pro sports at the time. The players were using old jock straps, it was a dark time in Bengals history. Though to Lewis’ credit, he rebuilt this franchise into something fans could actually be proud of.
They became competitive, they got to the base of Championship Mountain, but that’s not good enough. Of the six coaches in the NFL who’ve been at the helm for at least a decade, Marvin Lewis is the only one without a Super Bowl trophy.
As of Nov. 28, Cincinnati has lost five of their past six games, their defense is the worst in the league, the offense can’t operate without A.J. Green, and they’ve fired one coach in waiting while rehiring another. That go-ahead score against Pittsburgh in mid-October feels like it happened in 2015.
The Bengals might not have moved on from Marvin, but I have, there’s nothing else I need to see following that 35-20 beatdown this past Sunday. ESPN has pegged Lewis with a 60 percent chance to be fired and though this might be for nothing, here are two head coaching paths the Bengals could choose to down in January.
Anyone But Hue Jackson
That’s really all that needs to be said. Hue Jackson is a great POSITION coach, but he has proved over a large sample size that he is inept as a HEAD coach. Jason La Canfora reported before the Browns game that Jackson has a real shot to replace Lewis if he steps down or takes a front office role.
Fans would be less excited about this than retaining Lewis, especially if he’s in the building overseeing nine of the 10 or 11 losses this team is headed for. Who are we kidding here, this is Lewis’ best friend and if anyone has shown the ability to persuade Mike Brown over the last 16 years, it’s Marvin Lewis.
Jackson is the clear frontrunner if a coaching change ends up happening.
A former Bengals player from 1995-98, This is the home run hire for Cincinnati. Bieniemy is in his first season as offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs and I don’t have to throw stats in here to prove why that’s been a success.
As a former player for the franchise, Bieniemy has that familiarity that Brown always looks for in new hires. He could come in and immediately offer a fresh perspective on this roster, answer the Andy Dalton question, and start to move this organization into a new era.
Bieniemy has primarily coached running backs before taking over for Matt Nagy this season and some great ones at that: Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Kareem Hunt have all learned and thrived under Bieniemy. Imagine his expertise paired with the talent of Joe Mixon.
Oh and for those concerned with the “lack of coaching experience” after just one season as an OC, just look at the past two guys to hold Bieniemy’s current spot. Doug Pederson went from Chiefs OC to winning a Super Bowl, Nagy has turned the Bears from a laughing stock to a contender in his first season. Those expectations might not be fair for Bieniemy, but the blueprint is out there for Mike Brown to make a championship hire.